There are so many resources out there for beginning an anti-racist practice. Rather than re-post resources that many others have shared over the past few weeks, I want to offer some additional tools for an anti-racist practice that relate to journaling and creativity. I am not an expert by any means, but I have been trying to integrate this into my own journaling and self-reflection practice for many years thanks to my profession (I am an art educator with a focus on social justice, and I’m white), so I thought perhaps some of these resources and journaling suggestions could be as helpful for others as they have been for me.
To be clear: This post is not a replacement for the incredible resources others have shared. This post is an addition to help you on the next step: the lifelong step of working on your anti-racist practice.
Start by reading. Here are just a few places to start in your anti-racist practice:
- A great initial reading list in anti-racist work–pick one and start! See also: shows, movies, and documentaries to watch instead of read.
- “The Case for Reparations” by Ta-Nehisi Coates
- The 1619 Project
- If you like Podcasts, Code Switch is a great place to start. Find an episode about a topic you’re interested in and press play.
- Practice active listening, a skill that will help you listen to understand rather than respond.
- Explore the online archives of the National Museum of African American History and Culture. Their “Talking About Race” resource is a great place to start; the trove of media about African American culture is a true national treasure.
Support Black authors and creators in topics/fields you’re interested in, beyond work that is explicitly about race. Here are just a few of my long-time personal favorites–I hope you love their work as much as I do!
- Art History: This Is What I Know About Art by Kimberly Drew
- Childrens Book: How to Find a Fox by Nilah Magruder
- Planning and Stationery: Cloth + Paper (Instagram)
- Online Comics: Agents of the Realm by Mildred Louis; M.F.K. by Nilah Magruder
- Fashion (and Disney!): Color Me Courtney (her Instagram is incredible)
- Sci Fi Novels: The Broken Earth Trilogy by N. K. Jemisin
- Education: For White Folks Who Teach in the Hood and the Rest of Y’all Too by Christopher Emdin
Journal and Make Art
If you’ve been here for a while, you know I strongly believe that journaling and artmaking are important ways to get to know yourself. It might seem paradoxical that you need to focus on yourself at some points, but I personally find that understanding my own assumptions, upbringing, and context is really important to dismantling the implicit biases within myself so that I can take that work outward and empower others. However, and this is really important: You CANNOT let the work stop at the self-focused exercises. As Rachel Cargle writes:
Here are some journaling and artmaking prompts to help you work on your own anti-racist practice.
- Read an article linked above in the anti-racist resources section, or a chapter or two of one of the books. Free-write your thoughts and reactions without fear of judgment or saying something “wrong”. Read back your free-writing. Now write about your responses to the following questions: What assumptions are you making? How can you take apart those assumptions? Are those assumptions questions in disguise, things you don’t understand or have never personally experienced? What information do you need more of to understand that perspective? Where can you find it? And now–go find it and read it and repeat this exercise again.
- Interrogate the history of your industry and profession. Where have you seen or heard people of color? Where haven’t you? Write down questions you might ask your supervisor and leadership. Journal ways to support and lift up the voices of others who are not heard; remember that often it can start as simply as listening and asking the opinions of others whose voices aren’t often heard or asked for. By thinking about past situations in which you could have spoken up, you will better recognize the opportunity to do say something when a racist act or microaggression next occurs in your presence. Rather than stop yourself at feeling guilty about the past, let the guilt fuel you to commit to speaking up next time, rather than staying silent.
- Sometimes words aren’t enough, or we can’t find the words. Watch one of the shows/movies/documentaries linked above and instead of writing afterwards, draw, paint, or doodle while you watch or listen. Try working in abstract shapes and lines. Listen deeply to the material, don’t tune out; you don’t have to create the visual art constantly, just when it moves you. You might find your mind processes the concepts and ideas and emotions within the media in a different and deeper way than were you just watching passively. You might also try this while listening to a podcast. If you know you process thoughts best through the written word, you could also journal after you create visual art responses, and note down what was coming up for you.
- If you these worked for you, try more journaling exercises at @sacredfem, specifically this post. If you’re feeling overwhelmed, this resource from @therapyforlatinx has a great roster of ways to rest while you fight for social change–remember, we’re in this for the long haul, and it’s a marathon, not a sprint.
- Shop at Black-owned businesses where ever possible. For your next stationery haul, might I suggest one of my long-time faves, Cloth + Paper? For cards, I have been loving Nicole Marie Paperie (if you love Bravo or Schitt’s Creek as much as I do, you’re gonna love her work!) And are you a calligraphy nerd like me? Check out Calligraphers of Color!
- Ask the non-profits and organizations you love in your city to disclose the demographics of their board and staff. Demand to see more equitable representation among them. Do the same of the big corporations you support with your dollars, too.
- If you’re in a position to donate, find causes that are already close to your heart and donate throughout the year, not just right now. (For example, I used to work in digital learning, so I am a big fan of Black Girls Code.)
If you’re reading this, I know you’re passionate about journaling and creative productivity as much as I am. I hope these resources related to something we love so much — artmaking and self-reflection through journaling — can inspire you to use that passion to continue doing the work of anti-racism in the long-term. I hope it can give you some tools to keep doing this work for the rest of your life.